Nissan has partnered with Italy’s largest utility company Enel to demonstrate how electric cars can be used as a power source to help meet public grid demands during peak hours while also lining EV owners’ pockets with some cash in the process, reports Automotive News.
The trial, launched this year in Denmark, saw EV owners earning as much as $1,900 annually for their participation, plugging in their cars to serve as a supplemental energy source during hours of peak power demand.
Governments in western developed nations, including Canada, have already witnessed spikes in energy demands on electrical grids which, if left unchecked, could eventually cause significant problems in the reliability of the grids.
This, before EV sales have accounted for even five percent of the overall vehicle market. Once EVs proliferate to so many as one in four driveways, power grid managers will be hard pressed to reliably deliver electricity to all customers sharing a grid, unless major energy infrastructure projects are undertaken.
“If you blindingly deploy in the market a massive number of electric cars without any visibility or control over the way they impact the electricity grid, you might create new problems,” said Francisco Carranza, director of energy services at Nissan Europe, in an interview with Bloomberg.
Allowing the power grid to draw electricity from parked EVs, plugged into the network, could partly quell the expected peak power predicaments.
Grid managers typically see power demands swell in the morning before work or school, and in the evening when most people return home to turn on their TVs, washing machines, and other appliances. Therefore, only a minority of EV owners could likely participate in the program in a positive way, since they will require fully-charged cars before disembarking in the morning, and their car’s batteries will be depleted when arriving home at the end of the day.
Another factor to be considered is the additional “wear and tear” caused to the batteries due to the added charge and discharge cycles: batteries have a limited capacity for these cycles before they lose their ability to properly hold a charge.
It’s not clear if the remuneration offered to EV owners would sufficiently compensate them for the shortened lifespan of their batteries.
Still, the solution holds promise, as electric power consumption is expected to soar to as much as 300 times today’s consumption level by the year 2040, from roughly six terawatt-hours in modern times; to some 1,800 terawatt-hours in the next two decades, according to a study conducted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.